Authorities have started tents on Lesbo after forcing thousands of men, women and children to be devastated to spend the second night evacuating Greece’s largest refugee camp.
Faced with intense opposition from local authorities, who were now demanding that the infamous crowded Moria facility be removed from the island “once and for all”, the Greek government scrambled to break the deadlock.
Chinook helicopters, carrying tents and other important equipment, could be seen descending into a military firing range not far from Mytilene, the island’s main town, and rows of large white tents began to be erected.
Officials said that it was expected that by the weekend they would be able to accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people, adding that one yacht and at least two naval vessels were placed in another location to host several boats, although it remained unclear Whether they will be enough.
“We are ready with tents, we are ready to cover the needs of families and vulnerable groups,” said Greek Minister of Migration, Notis Mitrachis. “There is a serious problem of cooperation with the local administration, which has rejected every alternative proposal we have made for these people to sleep.” [somewhere] Safely. “
He said relief efforts were chaotic, describing the situation as “particularly difficult”.
In a sign of growing frustration, riot police and asylum seekers surrounded by water cannons announced several cardboard placards pleading for help: “We want freedom.”
Without shelter, families young and old were forced to sleep wherever they were: churches, cemeteries, farms, supermarket car parks, and side streets. The first three days in a fire wave completely devastated the hilltop camp in Moria, with a 15-minute drive from Mytilene with 12,500 people still being forced to fend for themselves.
The refugees interviewed by Greek TV spoke indifferently to the holding center against the backdrop of blankets and temporary shelters with one of the island’s main boulevards. “Moriya much better. No food nor water here [and it is] It is very cold, ”said a young man who witnessed the scenes amid the first wave of refugees arriving in the summer of 2015.
Without basic infrastructure it was impossible to keep food spoiled in the scorching heat of the day, as another camera was placed on the rotten egg crate.
Five years ago the Aegean Island had its first taste of the West for the nearly 1 million men, women and children who arrived on its shores in rare boats set out from Turkey as the Syrian Civil War drove people to Europe in search of protection. Was forced.
Out of that play, Moriya was born. Designed to host more than 3,000 people, the holding center soon took refuge in a mega-camp of around 10 times that number as the influx of asylum seekers increased. Lesbos initially wishes the newcomers, before compassion turns into exaggeration and then the anger behind reports of an increase in crime.
The Prime Minister of Greece in Athens, Kyrikos Mitsotakis, along with European Commission Vice-Chairman Margritus Cinicas, who is Greek, described Moria as “a sharp reminder” of what was now to change.
“How long can Europe last without a migration policy,” he said, adding that the European Union would soon unveil a new “Agreement for Migration and Asylum”, stating that the 27-member bloc would have to manage its external arrangements There is a robust system for. Boundaries.
Like his predecessors, Mitsutakis has complained of insufficient solidarity from Brussels, stating that Greece, as a frontier country, is forced to shoulder asymmetrical responsibility to deal with migrant flows coming from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Has been doing.
The coronovirus epidemic has also complicated the response as dozens of former residents of Moria destroyed the camp before Kovid-19 was diagnosed.
Eight infected people were found among the thousands who had fled the fire, but were still missing by Friday, forcing Mitrachies to believe Lesbos “has a very serious public health problem”.
A plane carrying about 200,000 Kovid-19 rapid test kits arrived on the island as the first tents started going up. Each refugee will be tested by doctors before entering any form of official temporary accommodation.
“People are very concerned,” said Yannis Mastarianis, who presides over the village of Moria who ignores what the facility is. “We are very tired after all these years. If they are to be kept here it must be far away. “
Greece’s center-right government has accused the refugees of opposing the lockout measures at the camp, after the Kovid-19 infection was discovered among residents. It has vowed to bring justice to the perpetrators, although refugees have disputed the official version of events. Vigilance tips are also prevalent behind arson attacks.
Everyone agrees that Moria is no more. But the spectators of any place that took the place of the infamous camp – one that Lesbos associated with squalor and international displeasure in the minds of local residents – are also unlikely to be accepted. In a statement the island’s municipality warned that it would use “any means” to stop another camp instead of “eradicating the morality”.
“The decision on this issue is final,” it said. “We ask the authorities concerned to cooperate … before it is too late.”
A senior municipal official admitted that right-wing extremists would simply take matters into their own hands if prudence was not maintained.